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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton and St. Olaf continue tradition of giving to Northfield

<ity of Northfield once again received a belated holiday gift from its two liberal arts colleges earlier this month. Carleton and St. Olaf each presented a check of $73,000 to the city’s general fund, totaling $146,000. The two schools make the donation in order to thank the city for all of its services that the colleges use.

“Like other non-profits, in Northfield – the schools, arts organizations, senior living centers, and churches – the colleges benefit from public services such as fire and police protection,” explained Alan Norton, Vice President and Treasurer of St. Olaf College.

Norton and Carleton College Vice President and Treasurer Fred Rogers presented the checks on January 9 at Northfield City Hall to Mayor Mary Rossing and council member Kris Vohs, respectively. The bestowal of the money is a continuation of a tradition that dates back to the 1920’s. Every year, the treasurers of the two schools meet to determine the amount and then present the checks to representatives of the city. While it is now a common practice for private colleges and universities to annually donate money to their hometown, Carleton and St. Olaf were two of the first colleges in the nation to adopt the gesture.

The amount of money, which is identical to last year’s gift, was determined by the size of past donations and the economic constraints of each school. The city is allowed to use the money in any way it deems necessary. Each college commits the same amount of money to the donation as the other.

The gift comes at a time when green is becoming a more precious commodity for the schools, Northfield, and the world. Despite the specter of dire financial straits on the horizon, the treasurers of the two colleges have decided that they remain committed to contributing to the city’s fiscal welfare. “Everything in our budget is going to be harder. While we are cutting the College budget this year and next, we made a decision to not reduce the support that we provide to the City of Northfield. Due to State of Minnesota budget shortfalls, the City of Northfield will likely be experiencing serious financial stress of its own, and we did not want to contribute to that.” Rogers said.

The Northfield city government is already feeling the effects of the economic crisis. Several city employees have already been laid off due to budget cuts. In late December, the city council approved taking $308,000 out of the city’s reserves in order to compensate for aid they did not receive from the Minnesota state government in 2008.

Rossing expressed her gratitude for the benefits that Carleton and St. Olaf provide for the city. “Our community is richer for the scores of faculty, staff and student volunteers from both St. Olaf and Carleton that are engaged in this community, and we benefit from the thousands of people who are drawn to Northfield because of the presence of these two institutions of higher learning,” she said.

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